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NASA Successfully Tests 'Flying Saucer' Craft, New Parachute 49

As reported by the Associated Press, via the Washington Post, an update on the promised (and now at least mostly successful) new disc-shaped craft and parachute technology intended for a NASA mission to Mars, though applicable to other space missions as well: A saucer-shaped NASA vehicle launched by balloon high into Earth’s atmosphere splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on Saturday, completing a successful test on Saturday of technology that could be used to land on Mars. Since the twin Viking spacecraft landed on the red planet in 1976, NASA has relied on the same parachute design to slow landers and rovers after piercing through the thin Martian atmosphere. The $150 million experimental flight tested a novel vehicle and a giant parachute designed to deliver heavier spacecraft and eventually astronauts. Despite small problems like the giant parachute not deploying fully, NASA deemed the mission a success. ... [T]he parachute unfurled — if only partially — and guided the vehicle to an ocean splashdown about three hours later. At 110 feet in diameter, the parachute is twice as big as the one that carried the 1-ton Curiosity rover through the Martian atmosphere in 2011. Coatta said engineers won't look at the parachute problem as a failure, but as a way to learn more and apply that knowledge during future tests. ... A ship was sent to recover a "black box" designed to separate from the vehicle and float. Outfitted with a GPS beacon, the box contains the crucial flight data that scientists are eager to analyze. "That's really the treasure trove of all the details," Coatta said. "Pressure, temperature, force. High-definition video. All those measurements that are really key to us to understanding exactly what happens throughout this test."
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NASA Successfully Tests 'Flying Saucer' Craft, New Parachute

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  • best you can do (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 28, 2014 @08:52PM (#47342777)

    Really? best you can do is a link to the Washington fucking post ? this is fucking slashdot, where's the mission pages, pics, videos, spec and software rundown ? ffs editors put some effort in!.

  • Just WOW (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Redbehrend ( 3654433 ) on Saturday June 28, 2014 @08:55PM (#47342785)
    It costed how much? It didn't work right, did not fully deploy and it was considered a success? Not to mention the material sunk? Now I see why SpaceX could replace NASA and this is coming from a Sci geek. They need to stop spending like idiots they ruin funding for all of us.
  • Re:fucking nasa (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TWX ( 665546 ) on Saturday June 28, 2014 @11:37PM (#47343195)
    No, it took $150,000,000 to design a parachute for literally otherworldly conditions, to determine terrestrial conditions that could be used to test the parachute, to design a mission to reach those terrestrial conditions, to design a craft to reach those conditions (ie, the vehicle, the spin-stabilizing motors, the launch motor, and the controls), and to pay for the staffing and research time needed to get the craft to PMRF, to assemble it, and to monitor weather conditions until they permit a launch, then to recover everything afterward out of the Pacific.

    If they decide to do more tests with this kind of platform those future tests will cost less, as the platform, the mission, and the conditions are known. Even if they had to build more platforms it's still cheaper for future attempts, probably on orders-of-magnitude.

When a fellow says, "It ain't the money but the principle of the thing," it's the money. -- Kim Hubbard